I don't know if it's just me, but most of the time when I have a "flash of insight" it's something so obvious it's actually embarrassing: So it was when I suddenly realized the other day why so many places other folks seem to adore have struck me as, well, uninteresting, to put the kindest face on it, and no names.
I'm referring to numerous spots that offer pleasant, but basically unexceptional, cooking, often American, country French, or Italian. Food I can--and do--cook at home with those little added touches that suit our particular tastebuds and with ingredients that satisfy our commitment to both the planet's and our own health. (At my own table I don't have to wonder how or where the fish was caught, for one example.)
But, if I either couldn't or didn't want to cook, these same places might well serve in loco--I wish I remembered enough Latin to say "family table" without making a bilingual idiot of myself!
Back when North Beach was full of cheap, filling, dreadful restaurants supplying Italian "family style" dinners and a few sort-of Basque places doing the same, I was incredulous at their popularity, Now, pricier and admittedly superior establishments around town play a similar role.
Dummy, I said to myself, these are where people who don't cook eat their dinners, and the food's so much better than chains or TV dinners, it tastes delicious. And most folks didn't grow up on wonderful, fresh, made-from-scratch, home-cooked and -baked meals, so no wonder these mediocre spots have so much appeal.
When I don't feel like cooking--and that's not often--I'd 1000 times rather eat Chinese food, which I rarely make at home, than someone else's rendition of things I do. Or Korean. Or a few other ethnic, mostly Asian cuisines.
(My mother warned me years ago that if I kept cooking the way I did, eventually I wouldn't want to go out to eat! It hasn't come to that, but I sure as heck don't need someone else's pasta or pizza or pie or countless other dishes.)